In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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WWE SMACKDOWN PRIMER
FEBRUARY 28, 2020
BOSTON, MASS. AT THE TD GARDEN
AIRS ON FOX NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Michael Cole and Corey Graves
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE Smackdown returns to quite a familiar site in the TD Garden in Boston, MA. (What’s the over/under on how many times they’ll say, “hey folks we’re in Boston, Massachusetts tonight!”?) The building opened in 1995 following the closure of the famous Boston Garden which had a rich history of WWE events. If you were a viewer of Prime Time Wrestling in the late 1980s-90s, you got to see matches from house shows in that arena on a regular basis. With that said, the TD Garden, like the Boston Garden before it, is home to the NBA’s Boston Celtics and the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Numerous WWE PPVs and television events have emanated from here as well as WCW’s Nitro in the 90s and some of their PPV events. Smackdown’s last appearance was in April of 2017. Raw has appeared four times since the calendar turned 2017.
Super Showdown is (thankfully) behind us and we turn our attention towards Elimination Chamber, which comes to us in less than two weeks on March 8, so we have a quick turnaround. Only one match has been announced thus far and that’s on the Raw side as they will determine Becky Lynch’s challenger at WrestleMania for the Raw Women’s Championship. We can expect a match on the Smackdown side to determine the challenger for Universal Championship. Here’s what’s advertised for tonight’s show thus far:
- John Cena to return to Smackdown
- Who’s next for Goldberg
Top 10 Moments from Last Week
Super Showdown Results Pertinent to Smackdown
- The Miz and John Morrison defeated New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championship.
- Mansoor defeated Dolph Ziggler.
- Roman Reigns defeated King Corbin in a steel cage
- Bayley defeated Naomi to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
- Goldberg defeated “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt to win the Universal Championship. Goldberg begins his second reign.
I don’t know if WWE is flying the crew from Riyadh to Boston. If that’s the case, it may be a skeleton crew on Smackdown tonight because the only flights I could find on flightaware.com are coming in tomorrow. There’s are a bunch of flights heading to JFK today including Saudi Airways themselves, after which they can connect to Boston, but that seems a bit cumbersome. If WWE chartered a plane, it may not show up as historically some customers request their flights be incognito on flight tracking websites. When I worked for a charter company years ago, we had some customers that requested as such. With that said, things are likely in flux for the show tonight.
Boston Welcomes the Champ Home
He first slapped the face of future WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle and told him he had ruthless aggression, a trait WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon was looking for in someone back in 2002. He then entertained us with raps both as a heel and an eventual babyface as the Doctor of Thuganomics. He then went on to hold a WWE World Championship on 16 different occasions, like HOFer Ric Flair before him, starting with his defeat of JBL at WrestleMania in 2005 for the WWE Championship. During that time, which lasted from 2005-2017, he became the most “polarizing champion” in WWE history as he would regularly get mixed reactions despite being positioned as a heroic babyface. You could say he was the predecessor to Roman Reigns. Basically, the grown men booed him, and the women & children cheered him while wearing his t-shirts.
In his hometown of Boston, he’s had numerous moments in the TD Garden including winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Jericho at Survivor Series in 2008 and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Money in the Bank in 2014. Since last winning the WWE Championship from A.J. Styles in 2017, he’s transitioned to a part time role and hasn’t appeared on WWE programming since the Raw Reunion in July of last year. He proposed to Nikki Bella at WrestleMania in 2017, but they never ended up getting married. He lost to the Undertaker in just one of the weirdest situations at the following ‘Mania. He brought back his Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick at last year’s ‘Mania and trash-rapped Elias much to the delight of the N.Y. crowd (the Yankees jersey was ridongculous though especially with him being a Red Sox fan).
While Raw is where he had the bulk of his success, Smackdown is where he first made his name. He last appeared on the New Year’s Day episode last year where he teamed with Becky Lynch to beat Andrade and Zelina Vega. Tonight, he returns in his hometown and of course I’m talking about none other than John Cena. He is here primarily to hype his new movie, Invisible Man.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) February 27, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: Given that “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt dropped the Universal Championship to Goldberg, there’s a lot of speculation out there that Cena could be earmarked to face Wyatt at WrestleMania. There is a history as they competed against each other at ‘Mania in 2014 and had a feud that went beyond that event. They’ve made an obvious big deal about Cena coming back.
Who’s Next for Universal Champion Goldberg
Yesterday at Super Showdown, Goldberg captured his second Universal Championship and third “world” championship overall in WWE as he defeated “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt in under five minutes. He hit four spears and a real weak jackhammer to score the pin. Wyatt did no-sell one or two of those spears. Here’s Goldberg in a WWE.com exclusive. Also, although I usually don’t include what we already saw in these reports, I give you a recap of the match:
Tonight, we’ll find out what’s next for Goldberg as we head towards Elimination Chamber.
Frank’s Analysis: I could say a lot about this. I can’t lie, it was the right call to put the title on Goldberg. It’s the fact that it was the right call that’s the problem. Brock Lesnar and Goldberg are your company champions. I have to credit PWTorch columnist Sean Radican for pointing out the fact that these are the same guys that got booed out of the building (and the state of New York for that matter) at WrestleMania 20, which took place in 2004. It’s 2020 now. This is epidemic of years and years of not building stars, making people look like a joke, poorly scripted promos, cooling off wrestlers that get over organically with the crowd, and pushing people like Roman Reigns who get rejected. Now, I expect that Roman is going to face Goldberg for the title at ‘Mania and that’s a better call than him facing Wyatt. If you have to worry so much about the reaction, maybe Roman isn’t your guy? I know a guy on Smackdown that people want to be behind, but WWE won’t get behind him and that’s Daniel Bryan. I could go into what they could do, but why bother.
Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week
- The Usos and New Day defeated Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler and Miz & John Morrison ahead of Miz & Morrison capturing the titles as they did yesterday.
- Apparently, Mandy Rose texted Otis that she was running late for their date the previous week. Later on, Dolph Ziggler gave Mandy a ride from the arena which upset Otis who was conveniently hiding behind boxes or crates or equipment or who cares.
- Lacey Evans claimed that seeing Bayley and Sahsa Banks act as bullies, especially towards her daughter, made her look at herself and change her ways.
- Intercontinental Champion Braun Strowman & Elias defeated Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro in a Symphony of Destruction match.
- On A Moment of Bliss, Nikki & Brie Bella were announced as the next entrants to the WWE Hall of Fame. They mentioned the Bella Army multiple times.
- Daniel Bryan defeated Health Slater. Remember when they were part of Nexus 10 years ago?
- Sheamus said that Shorty G and Apollo Crews were rats and he exterminated them. He’s entering Elimination Chamber.
- Naomi defeated Carmella to earn the championship match against Bayley yesterday at Super Showdown.
- Goldberg speared Bray Wyatt.
You know, I watched AEW Dynamite the other night and had such a smile on my face at the end. I enjoyed the stories, how characters were framed, and I was thinking about the future. That’s how I want to feel about wrestling. Are they perfect? Not at all, but I don’t mind discussing their issues as I’ve said before. I feel the same way about NXT, of which Vince for the most part has stayed away. When Friday rolls around I get this pit in my stomach thinking about dog food or God knows what crap we’re going to get. We’ll see how things go now that we’re past Super Showdown and start to head towards Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania. We should get a clearer picture of Elimination Chamber tonight as they have a quick turn towards that event which comes to us on March 8.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!